Q&A With Luke Clippinger, Candidate for District 46 Delegate

| June 23, 2014 | 0 Comments

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Luke Clippinger, a resident of Riverside, is a Democrat candidate for District 46 (map here) Delegate (3 seats available). The primary election will be held on June 24th and the general election will be held on November 4th.

Tell us a little about yourself and why the areas of the 46th District are important to you?

I live in the Riverside neighborhood in South Baltimore and I work as an Assistant State’s Attorney in Anne Arundel County.  As a prosecutor, I handle burglaries and cases related to domestic violence.  I grew up in Baltimore and graduated from the Baltimore Polytechnic Institute in 1990 – so south and southeast Baltimore is home.

Why are you motivated to run for office and potentially serve this district?

As a prosecutor, I see the impact of decisions made in the State House every day on our criminal justice system.  I hope to continue to use that experience to build on the accomplishments of my first term.

What are some ways the state can help the City of Baltimore continue to grow and move in the right direction?

One example of how the State is playing a pivotal role in moving Baltimore forward is the $1.1 billion the Baltimore City Public Schools will receive over the next ten years to renovate and rebuild 35 schools across the City.  Students can not learn in buildings that are not conducive to learning.  The construction of these new learning environments will have a lasting impact on Baltimore’s children.  I will look for further ways that the State can collaborate with the City to make needed improvements to our crumbling infrastructure.

Many polls have rated Baltimore as an extremely unfriendly business state. What can be done to improve the business climate for all Maryland businesses?

We can improve the business climate by building on the success of programs such as the EARN program.  EARN (or Employment Advancement Right Now) brings together businesses within different industries, identifies skills those employers needs and connects potential employees with the skills the employers need.  This program creates opportunities for workers to advance, creating new entry level opportunities for Marylanders while strengthening Maryland’s workforce.

Efforts have been in place to lower property taxes in Baltimore City, but much work is needed to make the city competitive with the surrounding counties, as well as the neighboring cities of Washington, DC and Philadelphia. How can the city and state work together to solve this problem?

No one will disagree that the City’s property tax rate is a powerful disincentive for people to move or remain in Baltimore.  We made some progress in the 2014 session with the passage of legislation I co-sponsored, the Resident Retention Act.  The Act will provide a tax credit to families who decide to stay in Baltimore and move into a new home.  I will continue to work with other members of the Baltimore City delegation and other members of the General Assembly to find ways to lower property taxes.

How should the city and state proceed with the proposed Red Line? What future transportation or infrastructure projects are important to this area?

The lack of a modern, efficient mass transit system is one of the biggest challenges the entire region faces.  We have a bus system that follows routes set in the 1920s with buses that, in many cases, are not equipped with GPS equipment to allow commuters to know when the next bus will arrive.  Past attempts at a comprehensive rail system have resulted in lines that only hit ridership targets when the Orioles have a good season.  And while the MARC system has expanded its schedule to weekends, the State should continue to expand availability on weekends and during the week and add more stations, including Bayview and Riverside.  Overshadowing all of these challenges are roads and bridges that are fragile – and in the case of the crumbling Hanover Street Bridge – hugely expensive to replace.

The Red Line, despite years of studies, leaves more questions than answers. How long will it take to get the entire federal share that has been promised? Where will the City get the $200 million to pay for its share?  If the City is going to provide “in kind services” to cover the $200 million, what other projects will have to wait so the Department of Transportation can perform those in kind services?  Who will cover further cost overruns?  Will we need a special taxing district, as the State Department of Transportation has proposed, to build the Red Line?  Will that result in higher property taxes?

There is no question in my mind that we must add further rail to our existing network.  Our city needs an east-west line that will connect people to jobs, entertainment and housing.  The Red Line, as proposed, could be far better and cheaper.  I will continue to ask questions that must be addressed as this proposed $2.6 billion project continues to develop.

How can Baltimore City schools and recreations facilities continue to improve?

As I’ve mentioned, the City’s schools will see $1.1 billion in improvements over the next ten years.  Many of those facilities will also see improved recreation facilities as part of the improvements to the school.  We must also ensure the Thornton formula that is used to determine State support for our City schools continues to provide adequate funding for our students.

Why should people vote for you?

I have been an effective legislator in my first term, and there is more progress to be made.  I authored and passed Jake’s Law, legislation that creates a criminal penalty when a driver causes an accident because they were illegally using a handheld device in their car.  I also authored the statute that requires gun owners to report their guns as having been lost or stolen to police.  This gives law enforcement an essential tool in tracking down those guns as they enter the underground economy.  And, as I mentioned in a previous answer, I was a co-sponsor of the EARN program that gets employees the skills employers want.

There is more to do to help Baltimore become a better place to live.  We must continue to focus on protecting funding for Baltimore’s Public Schools – along with identifying needed reforms to our Charter Schools law so those institutions may thrive.  We must answer the questions I’ve identified with the Red Line – and make significant changes to our existing, antiquated bus routes.  We must also identify new ways to help create alternatives for children so they are less likely to commit crimes.

About the Author:

Founder and Publisher of SouthBmore.com, longtime resident of South Baltimore, and a graduate of Towson University. Diehard Ravens and O's fan, beach volleyball enthusiast, dog lover, and "bar food" foodie. Email me at [email protected] and follow me on Twitter at @SoBoKevin.
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